For a winter side-trip, look for outstanding skiing in Washington State’s Cascade Mountain Range. You don’t have to travel far to enjoy downhill runs, snowboarding, or cross-country trails.
A two hour drive south of Seattle Crystal Mountain and White Pass are the two ski areas at Mt. Rainier.
Crystal Mountain has ten ski lifts plus the new Mt. Rainier gondola that takes you to over 50 runs including the 2.5 mile Northway with a 3,100 foot vertical drop. There are also gentle groomed cruising runs for families and backcountry snow shoeing areas. For a week-end getaway, check out one of the three lodges at Crystal. Photo: Crystal Mountain. www.crystalmountainresort.com.
Over at White Pass look for a more kicked-back, slightly off the beaten path sort of ski area. Located on Highway 12 from Chehalis to the west and Yakima to the east skiers enjoy downhill and snowboarding both night and day! Lifts take skiers to 36 designated trails. www.skiwhitepass.com
Snoqualmie Summit a short 60 miles east of Seattle on I-90 features a complex of 3 diverse snow terrains to suit a variety of skiing skills. www.summitatsnoqualmie.com
Alpental is perhaps the most beautiful and most challenging skiing terrain in the state. The Alpental Back Bowls and Backcountry features legendary terrain that can be the highlight of your day. Be sure you’re ready for skiing or snowboarding in this wild terrain by knowing the danger.
Stevens Pass on Scenic Highway 2 is the other major highway through the Cascades. Your day in the snow at Stevens Pass is just 75 miles east of Seattle and 55 miles west of Wenatchee. The Cowboy Mountain ski base is at a magnificent 5,845 feet elevation and gives a commanding view of the mountain peaks as you ride the lift. Granite Peak, Pacific Crest and Tyee Creek Lodges offer food and drink before your next run. Try some night skiing on 6 lighted runs and still drive two hours back to the city. www.stevenspass.com
Mission Ridge Ski Resort just twelve miles from Wenatchee on the east side of the Cascade Mountains is known for sunlight, dry powder and great views of the Columbia River basin. The Ski area is built into a 2,000 acre basin with 36 runs, acres of trails, chutes, screamer and bowls. Challenging back country trail make good weekend adventures. All of this fun in the snow is a city bus ride away! www.missionridge.com
Mt. Baker skiing gives you the most snow in the Cascades. I mean as much as 700 inches in a single year! All this great snow is 2 ½ hours drive from Seattle, two hours from Vancouver, B.C. and 75 minutes from Bellingham. Pick up a ‘Baker Bus’ from Bellingham to the ski slopes.
Skiers and snowboarders will find challenging runs on Austin, North Face, Chicken Ridge and the famed Chute. Take a lift from White Salmon Lodge to Panorama Dome. There are 8 chairs to get you up the mountain to runs that will suits every ski level. www.mtbaker.us
Whistler Blackcomb Resort just across the Canadian border in British Columbia is the premier ski area of the region. Photo: Tourism Whistler/Mike Crane
Two ‘mile high’ mountains linked across the Fitzsimmons Valley by a Peak 2 Peak Gondola give you a chance to ski both mountains in one visit. Just 75 miles from Vancouver, British Columbia, Whistler Blackcomb has over 8,100 skiable acres, 200 trails, 37 lifts including Crystal Ridge Express and Harmony 6 Express, three glaciers and twelve alpine bowls. Yes, Whistler is big and hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Nordic skiing at Whistler takes you to areas like scenic Lost Lake Park, guided snowcats get skier & boarders to the backcountry, and the Base 2 Zone Tube Park has eight lanes of runs for more fun in the snow. You may want to consider taking a clear day off the slopes for a scenic flight over Blackcomb and Whistler Mountains, the Village and peaks, rivers and glacier fed lakes in Garibaldi Park.
Whistler Village at the base of the mountains will fill your off slopes time with shopping the fashion collections, checking out gear and ski souvenirs. Lodges, hotels, inns and suites circle the Village. Choose from a collection of restaurants and clubs designed for relaxing after a busy day on the mountain. You really will find a snow adventure at world-class Whistler Blackcomb. www.whistlerblackcomb.com